Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

Employee Onboarding at Dynamo

I think there is a natural high level of excitement when starting a new job. I mean who isn’t stoked (and nervous) for their first day? You spend the night before waking up every hour in fear of being late or missing your alarm, then proceed to try on seventeen combinations of mediocre outfits. You try to nail thirty first impressions with a whole team of new colleagues, making nervous lunchtime conversations, all while trying to impress the heck out of your new boss. So fun!

That being said, before starting at Dynamo, changing careers was not really on my radar. I had a nice, comfortable, unionized job that I really enjoyed, and not a lot of motivation to head out into the chaos of the job market or starting over with ‘newbie’ status.

A good friend messaged me to check out an eye-catching job posting she had seen on Facebook — with her much-needed push to get out of my comfort zone, I decided to apply thinking it was a worthwhile shot in the dark. In short, I was offered the job, but my first day and onboarding experience were nothing like the awkward experiences that I was used to (except maybe for a couple paranoid sleepless nights).

Pre-first day Trello board

A week prior to my first day, I was sent a couple of welcome emails, and a link to join a Trello board. The Trello board included getting some of the logistical tasks out of the way. As I went through submitting all my forms, reading through company literature, enrolling and setting up my accounts, I stumbled upon a column on the Trello board entitled ‘Who’s who’.

As I (slowly) got the hang of Trello, I realized that not only was there an introduction to each new colleague, but a personalized message from each of them. Boy, tug at my heartstrings why don’tcha! Not only did I already feel more comfortable, but now had an idea of my soon-to-be teammates’ individual roles within the company, their personal interests, along with a few great talking points for my first day!

The welcoming and encouraging nature of these messages revealed more than just a friendly team, but a team that valued its company and a company that supported its team. One particular message stuck out from the ‘Who’s who’:

“[I] hope the first couple of days at Dynamo are epic. And if not, no worries, the rest of your time there will be.”

I really appreciated the authenticity of Braden Douglass’ message, it radiated ‘realness’ — exactly what I was looking for.

First day

The Trello board also included what to expect on my first day, what I would be doing, with who, and what needed to be accomplished. After arriving to my assigned desk equipped with the tools needed to get going, getting office and neighbourhood tours, having lunch with my mentor, and a set of predetermined tasks that I could complete, I was ready to get to it!

What I enjoyed most was being in the know in terms of what to expect. I didn’t have to have my hand held transitioning from task to task, and was able to take ownership of my schedule from the very first day.

First week

My wariness in starting a new job lied with the idea that I wouldn’t be a productive part of the company. In the past when starting a new job, I always felt as if I was more of a burden to those around me, trying to ‘look busy’ for 8 hrs, mustering up the courage to interrupt someone to see if they ‘needed help’. What I liked most about my previous job, was my high involvement in everyday affairs. At Dynamo, I feared feeling isolated for an extended period of time, until I could prove myself and gain the trust of my new coworkers and bosses.

Once all the introductions and tours were over, Corey Pomkoski, our Director of Operations and my new boss and mentor, put me right to work. Corey shared an elaborate task list on Basecamp with me, it included short term and long term goals for me to accomplish in my first few weeks, at my own pace. Having a list of achievable goals allowed me to dive right in. In turn, this organic opportunity to show what I was capable of made me feel useful while I learned the ropes, and allowed me to naturally incorporate myself into Dynamo’s workflow.

Keys to onboarding success

Here are the three things that I appreciated most about about my onboarding at Dynamo, that you could replicate in your company:

1. Predictability

My new job journey was mapped out just enough that I was able to properly prepare to take ownership of my new role from the very first day.

2. A list of short/long term tasks to complete independently

This allowed me to feel productive and autonomous during the first few weeks, and to settle in without disrupting the workflow. Above all, I felt part of the team right off the bat.

3. Multiple chances to discuss and review my role within the first six months

Predetermined formal meetings were scheduled 1 week, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and 6 months from my start date. Being able to check-in so frequently during the first six months showed Dynamo’s investment in hiring me, but also encouraged a collaborative effort to assure I was filling the role they needed and they were properly supporting me to do it.

The important takeaway is to assure a proper onboarding process exists, don’t leave your new hire to question whether or not they’ve made the right decision. Show them that they have, by your commitment to helping them become an important part of your team. Need a few pointers of how to improve your onboarding process? Do you have some great tools that have helped you? Let’s us know, we’d be happy to continue the conversation!



Dynamo offers world-class expertise in design and full-stack consulting. We help startups build & refine their digital products.

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